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Apply personal touch to firings; don’t use e-mail


Everything is done by e-mail these days, but the American worker still isn’t ready yet to be fired that way …

Announcing terminations: What’s the smartest way?


A reader of our weekly e-mail newsletter, The HR Specialist Weekly, recently posed this question: “How do you let other employees know when you’ve fired someone?” Following are some of the responses from other readers …

Isolated racist comments won’t always be discrimination


You know the workplace should be free of racially or sexually charged comments and that supervisors most certainly shouldn’t engage in such banter. But you can’t wipe prejudice out of every employee’s mind …

Firing ‘Worst of the best’ isn’t age discrimination


If economic conditions force you to downsize, be prepared for lawsuits. That’s especially true if no employees stand out as obvious poor performers who should be canned. In such cases, articulate that you have no choice but to fire "the worst of the best" …

Cut Out the Age Jokes; Employees Aren’t ‘Antiques’


Workplace humor is fine until it drifts into the realm of gags about employees’ gender, race or religion. Even age-based jokes can trigger lawsuits. Although few employees will win age-discrimination lawsuits based on a joke or two, such juvenile behavior can take an otherwise marginal case and give it legal legs …

Layoffs: Walk a fine line to avoid age-Bias laws


Q. We’re a small business (just eight employees) and haven’t laid anyone off. But business is slow and we need to restructure. We have an employee who has worked here part time (12 hours per week) for 25 years. She is 65 years old. We have one other part-timer (10 hours per week) who has worked here just one year. We’d like to lay off both part-time employees and keep the full-time employees. Can we do that? —P.U., Georgia

Analyze Severance Agreements for Plain-Language Readability


When it comes time to downsize or reorganize, one of the most common risks you’ll face is age-discrimination claims. That’s why it’s best to have departing employees sign severance agreements in which they waive their rights to pursue age-related claims

Steer Clear of ‘Take It or Leave It’ Early-Retirement Offers


If you plan to lay off employees, structure early-retirement offers carefully to avoid age-discrimination lawsuits. In particular, avoid making "take-it or leave-it" offers that force employees to choose between resigning with a severance package or being terminated …

Know the ‘Cooling Off’ Period for Age-Bias Waivers


Q. Can you tell me if there’s a law that says a 45-day waiting period must exist from the time employees are told they’ll be laid off until they receive the severance payment? Supposedly, this is called a cooling-off period. Is this a federal law? —T.M., Pennsylvania

Don’t ask employees to sign away their FMLA rights

In severance agreements, employers typically require employees to sign promises not to file employment-related lawsuits. But don’t try to include FMLA rights in that
Why? A new ruling …